Colestid (Colestipol) – Oral

What Is Colestid?

Colestid contains the active drug colestipol, which belongs to the class of medications called bile acid sequestrants. It is used along with dietary changes to reduce the amount of fatty substances such as low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, considered "bad" cholesterol, in people with high cholesterol.

Colestipol works by binding bile acids in the intestines to prevent their absorption from the small intestine. This causes the liver to convert cholesterol into bile acid, lowering cholesterol levels in the body.

Colestid is a prescription medicine available as tablets and granules to take by mouth.

Drug Facts

Generic Name: Colestipol

Brand Name: Colestid

Drug Availability: Prescription

Administration Route: Oral

Therapeutic Classification: Antihyperlipidemic

Available Generically: Yes

Controlled Substance: N/A

Active Ingredient: Colestipol

Dosage Form(s): Tablet, powder for suspension

What Is Colestid Used For?

Colestid is used along with a proper diet to reduce LDL cholesterol levels in the blood. This reduction in bad cholesterol helps decrease the risk of strokes and heart attacks.

Lifestyle changes, such as a healthy diet, exercise, and weight management, should be the first strategy used to lower cholesterol levels. However, if diet and exercise alone do not help, adding Colestid may be beneficial. In addition to taking medication, you must continue your lifestyle changes to get the maximum benefits.

Cholesterol checks are usually part of a routine medical checkup. If your healthcare provider finds that your LDL cholesterol is too high, they might prescribe Colestid to help bring it down.

How to Take Colestid

Read the prescription label carefully before taking your medication. Talk to your pharmacist or healthcare provider if you have questions about how to take it.

Colestid comes as oral tablets and granules. The tablets are usually prescribed to take once or twice daily, whereas granules are prescribed one to six times daily. Take these exactly as directed. Don't change the dose or take it more often than prescribed.

Unless otherwise instructed, take all other prescription or nonprescription drugs and herbal products at least one hour before or four hours after taking Colestid since Colestid can interfere with the absorption of many other drugs.

When taking Colestid:

  • Swallow the tablets whole with a glass of water or other drinks (fruit juice, water, milk, or soft drink). Do not chew, split, or crush them.
  • If you take granules, add them to at least 3 ounces of a liquid and stir until thoroughly mixed. After taking the dose, rinse the glass with a small amount of extra water and drink it to ensure that you take the entire dose.

Colestid granules may also be mixed with hot or regular breakfast cereals, thin soups, or pulpy fruit extracts.

Your healthcare provider may increase the dose gradually depending on your response to it. Continue to take your medication even if you feel well; do not stop it without consulting your healthcare provider.

Storage

Store away from heat, light, and moisture at room temperature (between 68 and 77 degrees F). Do not store it in the bathroom. Keep all medications locked away and out of reach of children and pets.

Do not keep unwanted and expired medicines with you. Don't throw the unwanted drugs in the waste bin, pour them down a drain, or flush them down the toilet. The best way to discard expired or no-longer-needed drugs is through a drug take-back program. Contact your pharmacist for information on where you can discard your medications safely.

Off-Label Uses

Healthcare providers may prescribe colestipol for off-label uses, meaning for conditions not specifically indicated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Colestipol is sometimes used off-label to treat pruritus (itchy skin) due to cholestasis, a condition in which the liver's bile flow is reduced or stopped. Bile acid sequestrants are recommended as the initial therapy to treat this condition.

However, the off-label use is based on limited and older data for cholestyramine (another cholesterol medication) and clinical experience. Although specific data for colestipol is lacking, it may be considered instead of cholestyramine based on patient preference.

How Long Does Colestid Take to Work?

Colestid will start to work within 24 to 48 hours of starting it. However, it may take about one month to show its complete benefits. In addition to medication, be sure to adjust your diet and exercise routine to aid in the cholesterol-lowering effects.

What Are the Side Effects of Colestid?

This is not a complete list of side effects, and others may occur. A healthcare provider can advise you on side effects. If you experience other effects, contact your healthcare provider or pharmacist. You may report side effects to the FDA at fda.gov/medwatch or 800-FDA-1088.

Common Side Effects

Colestipol may cause side effects. The most commonly reported is constipation, which can be severe. However, most of the time it is mild and temporary.

You can reduce the severity of constipation by drinking more fluids and adding fiber to your diet. A stool softener may also be helpful. Tell your healthcare provider if your constipation becomes severe or does not go away.

Other reported side effects include:

Severe Side Effects

Call your healthcare provider immediately if any of the rare but severe side effects occur, such as:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chest pain
  • Severe stomach or abdominal pain
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Rapid breathing
  • Confusion

A very severe allergic reaction to Colestid is rare. Seek immediate medical help if you notice symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, including:

  • Rash or itching
  • Swelling of the face, tongue, or throat
  • Severe dizziness
  • Trouble breathing

Chronic use of colestipol may cause increased bleeding due to hypoprothrombinemia (a deficiency of the blood-clotting substance prothrombin) caused by vitamin K deficiency. It is advisable to monitor fat-soluble vitamin levels while on prolonged treatment with Colestid. 

Report Side Effects

Colestipol may cause other side effects. Call your healthcare provider if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your healthcare provider may send a report to the FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program or by phone (800-332-1088).

Dosage: How Much Colestid Should I Take?

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The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

  • For oral dosage form (powder for oral suspension):
    • For high cholesterol:
      • Adults—15 to 30 grams a day. This is divided into two to four doses and taken before meals.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.

Modifications

Your healthcare provider may increase the dose of Colestid gradually depending on your body's response to treatment.

Additionally, if you normally have trouble swallowing pills, you might find that Colestid pills are too large for you. Discuss this with your healthcare provider before starting the tablets. The granules for suspension form could be a better option for you.

Since Colestid is known to interfere with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, you may need to use caution if taking it while pregnant or breastfeeding. Talk to your healthcare provider if you are pregnant or nursing while on Colestid.

Missed Dose

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is nearly the time of your next dose, skip the missed one. Continue your regular dosing schedule for the next doses. Don't take a double dose to make up for the missed dose.

Overdose: What Happens If I Take Too Much Colestid?

An overdose is not likely. However, if you do take too much, side effects would likely include an obstructed gastrointestinal tract. Call your healthcare provider promptly if you notice the following symptoms have become severe after taking more Colestid than prescribed:

  • Stomach pain
  • Bloating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

What Happens If I Overdose on Colestid?

If you think you or someone else may have overdosed on Colestid, call a healthcare provider or the Poison Control Center (800-222-1222).

If someone collapses or isn't breathing after taking Colestid, call 911 immediately.

Precautions

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It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits. This will allow your doctor to see if the medicine is working properly to lower your cholesterol levels and to decide if you should continue to take it.

Do not stop taking this medicine without first checking with your doctor. When you stop taking this medicine, your blood cholesterol levels may increase again. Your doctor may want you to follow a special diet to help prevent this from happening.

Do not take any other medicine unless prescribed by your doctor since colestipol may interfere with other medicines.

What Are Reasons I Shouldn’t Take Colestid?

People who are hypersensitive to colestipol or any other components of Colestid should not take it.

What Other Medications Interact With Colestid?

It's possible for drug-drug interactions to occur when taking Colestid with certain other medications.

When used together, Colestid may delay or reduce the absorption of other oral medications. The time interval between the administration of colestipol and any other medicines should be as long as possible.

For example, taking Colestid before a single dose of a medication called propranolol (brand names include Inderal and Hemangeol) may decrease propranolol's absorption. If you are already taking propranolol, your healthcare provider may monitor your treatment more closely after adding or removing it.

To avoid impeding the absorption of these medications, it is recommended to take other drugs at least one hour before or four to six hours after Colestid. However, always check with your healthcare provider first to determine how you should time your doses.

Other drugs or substances that should not be taken at the same time as Colestid include:

Special care is required when taking digitalis preparations, as there are differing results for the effect of colestipol on the bioavailability (the extent and rate that a drug becomes completely available in your system) and absorption of Lanoxin (digoxin) and digitoxin. 

Colestipol may also decrease mycophenolic acid exposure and potentially reduce the efficacy of mycophenolate mofetil.

What Medications Are Similar?

Currently, three bile acid sequestrant drugs are available in the United States, including:

  • Colestid (colestipol) is available as a tablet or resin powder.
  • Welchol (colesevelam) is available as a tablet, chewable bar, and powder.
  • Prevalite (cholestyramine) is available as a chewable bar and powder.

All of these drugs are used alone or combined with other medicines and dietary changes to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Colestid used for?

    Colestipol is used to reduce the amount of fatty substances, such as LDL cholesterol, in the blood. It should be used along with exercise and changes in diet and weight.

  • How does Colestid work?

    Colestid binds to bile acids and prevents their absorption from the small intestine. The decreased reabsorption lowers bile acids in the body. As a result, the liver will convert certain lipids from the blood into more bile acids, reducing cholesterol levels.

  • What drugs should not be taken with Colestid?

    Colestid may interact with different drugs as it binds with various compounds in the gastrointestinal tract, thereby inhibiting their absorption. Some of the drugs include diuretics, propranolol, tetracyclines, and fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, and K).

  • How long does it take for Colestid to work?

    It may take about a month of using the medication regularly to improve your cholesterol levels. For best results, take medication as directed. Colestipol will show better results if the treatment plan includes diet, exercise, and weight control.

  • Should I take any vitamins while taking Colestid?

    Being a bile acid sequestrant, colestipol may interfere with the absorption of folic acid and fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. If you are taking Colestid, consult your healthcare provider on whether you need these supplements.

  • What dietary instructions should I follow while taking Colestid?

    It is recommended to eat a low-fat diet and exercise regularly while taking Colestid to get improved results. If you don't know where to start, talk to your healthcare provider or consider consulting a registered dietitian nutritionist.

  • How to stop taking Colestid?

    Don't quit taking Colestid without consulting your healthcare provider. Your blood cholesterol levels may increase again after stopping colestipol. Your healthcare provider may recommend a special diet to help prevent the rise in cholesterol levels.

How Can I Stay Healthy While Taking Colestid?

Colestid lowers bad cholesterol, known as LDL cholesterol, in the blood, which can help prevent heart attacks, stroke, and circulatory problems.

To get the most from this treatment, make healthy lifestyle changes in your diet and physical activity routine. Try to reduce the amount of salt in your diet and incorporate more fruits and vegetables and soluble fiber.

Keep your regular medical appointments. You may need to have blood tests to monitor your progress from time to time.

Medical Explainer

Verywell Health's drug information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a healthcare provider. Consult your healthcare provider before taking any new medication(s). IBM Watson Micromedex provides some of the drug content, as indicated on the page.

9 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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